Rediscovering Yoga

Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati, talk given at Hyderabad, India, on 14 March, 2008

The people of Hyderabad as well as everyone else here today are indeed fortunate as you have just heard two of the mantras given by Swami Satyananda. Hari Om is the yoga mantra he gave in Munger, and Namo Narayana is the mantra of Rikhia. Both of these important mantras, which have now entered your consciousness, recognize the divinity within you. Recognizing this inner divinity is the subject matter of yoga. You have to recognize it, but at present you do not.

In the Ramacharitamanas, in Sundarkand, there is a very special moment when Jamavant reminds Hanuman of his greatness. Hanuman has been sent by Rama to search for Sita, who has been kidnapped by Ravana. When he reaches the brink of the ocean, he wonders how he will cross it. At that time Jamavant reminds Hanuman that he has the siddhi, psychic ability, of being able to fly, but he does not remember it. Jamavant reminds him that he has the ability to soar across the ocean and reach the other side. Similarly, we are here today just to remind you of something which you already know but have forgotten. You have forgotten about yoga, which is your inheritance by virtue of being born in this land of rishis and munis, sages and saints. It is the inheritance left behind by your ancestors.

We have come to remind you, not to teach you. You already know everything. We are just going to remove the veil which has blurred the memory in your mind. This great knowledge was handed down by the rishi parampara, tradition of the sages. It is essential for mankind no matter in which age we live, whether satya yuga or treta yuga. Of course in kali yuga it is most important, because in this age man has gone very far from the source of his essential nature.

What is yoga? Yoga is living a natural life, a life in which you are able to understand yourself. At present you do not live that sort of life. If you lived a natural life, your body would tell you what you needed to do, and you would not have to ask anybody. This body is a product of nature, of the pancha mahabhootas, the five essential states of nature, and therefore whatever kind of life you choose has to complement them. As the body is a product of nature, any means that you employ to improve yourself has to be natural, not chemical. We ingest many things which are not natural and they cause an imbalance in the body. So when we talk of yoga, it is not just asana and pranayama that we have to consider, because that is a very small portion of yoga. Yoga refers to a yogic lifestyle.

In Rikhia, the place of Swami Satyananda, one of the greatest exponents of yoga, we do not teach yoga. It was a conscious decision not to teach yoga although most people there are trained yoga teachers. We decided that instead of teaching yoga, we should encourage people to live yoga. Just practicing asana for ten minutes a day is not enough. It is like sinning the whole week and then going to confession on Sunday, and then getting ready to sin the next week. If you fill yourself with toxins all week and want to eliminate them in ten minutes, it is not possible. The yogic lifestyle has to be included in your curriculum if you want to improve your lifestyle. People come to yoga when they begin to feel an imbalance in their life, an imbalance in the body, thoughts or emotions. They come to yoga to correct the imbalance, for which not just practicing yoga, but living a yogic lifestyle is necessary.

A yogic lifestyle means two things: balance and discipline. The best example of balance is found in nature. Nature is balanced. Night is balanced by day, heat is balanced by cold. That is how nature acts all the time, balancing everything that takes place. That is the balance you have to bring into your own life, starting with the amount you sleep, eat, talk, think or work. Everything has to be regulated. Balance is taking the middle path, without any extremes. When you live a life of extremes, you tax your body and mind, and then you have to pay the price.

The second aspect is that most dreaded word: discipline. If you want to achieve anything in life, you have to discipline yourself. Whether you are a musician, a businessman or a housewife, you have to follow discipline in your work. Yoga and discipline go hand in hand. Without discipline you cannot even think about practicing yoga.

So this is the yogic lifestyle you have to think about if you want to include yoga in your curriculum, and not just practice asanas. That is what you have to take home with you.